Rwanda has made tremendous strides to remain an “Ebola-free” country despite the outbreak claiming lives in its neighbourhood for over a year now, World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Last week, a woman who was fishmonger from DRC died of Ebola and reports emerged that she could have passed through Rwanda – sending shockwaves that the virus could have remained in Rwanda.
Rwanda immediately refuted reports. World Health Organisation also published findings of its investigations and confirmed Rwanda’s stand.
In a statement posted on WHO website on Wednesday, Dr. Tedros Adhanom commended Rwanda on its ongoing Ebola preparedness efforts.
With the efforts in place, Dr. Ghebreyesus confirmed that “no cases of Ebola have been reported from the country to date.”
“Rwanda has been proactive and engaged in Ebola preparedness at all levels since the outbreak was declared almost one year ago in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. We commend the actions taken so far and confirm that there have been no cases of Ebola in Rwanda to date, despite high levels of traffic and movement of people between the two countries,” said Dr. Tedros.
Atleast 100,000 people cross over Rwanda’s border with DRC’s Goma city everyday.
To deal with a possible Ebola outbreak in Rwanda, a detailed National Preparedness Plan has been put in place including training of health workers in early detection and response, educating communities about Ebola, vaccinating health workers in high-risk areas, equipping health facilities, and conducting simulation exercises to maintain a high level of readiness.
Screening for Ebola symptoms at points of entry has been ongoing since the beginning of the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has been reinforced since the confirmation of a case in the Congolese city of Goma.
The government has been directing people crossing the border to first check for their temperatures, wash their hands, and listen to Ebola awareness messages.
An Ebola Treatment Centre has been set up in Rwanda and 23 isolation units are being prepared in hospitals in 15 priority districts.
On top of that, Ebola response simulation exercises have been conducted in Kanombe Military Hospital in the capital Kigali, Gihundwe District Hospital, Kamembe International Airport, and Rugerero Ebola Treatment Centre to test Rwanda’s preparedness in response to a case, which will include Emergency Operations Centre activation, active surveillance, case management and laboratory testing.
About 3000 health workers in high-risk areas have been vaccinated as a preventative measure, including more than 1100 in Rubavu district which borders DRC.
“Rwanda has made a significant investment in Ebola preparedness,” said Dr. Tedros.
“But as long as the outbreak continues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there is a very real risk of spread to neighboring countries. We urge the international community to continue supporting this critical work.”